Scott Bruun: Wyden and the Politics of a Bad Iran Deal
Wednesday, August 19, 2015
For politicians, this means there’s little opportunity for cross-over appeal. You’re either with us, or against us. You’re either “courageous,” or you’re a “chump.” Sadly, many politicians perpetuate this. Instead of leading public opinion, they follow it. Sure, this exacerbates public cynicism. But hey, it makes it a lot easier to get re-elected, right?
Just ask Mayor Hales.
Ron Wyden was my congressman for 7 years, and has now been my senator for 20. I have never voted for him. Chances are, I never will. Yet in my mind, Wyden deserves real credit for his political courage in several areas – including free trade and now Iran. Courage that stands in stark contrast to other “leaders” in Oregon and around the country.
Senator Wyden has expressed significant doubts about the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), more commonly known as the “Iran deal.” Wyden’s doubts are well-founded. It’s a bad deal, after all.
The deal gives Iran the ability to procure arms in five years, build ballistic missiles in eight, and begin arming those missiles with nuclear warheads in ten. The deal eliminates all sanctions and gives Iran immediate access to $150 billion in cash, while also clearing the way for a comprehensive nuclear “energy” program. The enforcement and inspection mechanisms are toothless. And for all of this, the deal does not provide release for four Americans currently held hostage by Iran.
For the Mullahs of Tehran, it’s a great deal. It frees-up resources and allows the regime to advance its generational war, directly and through proxies like Hezbollah, against the “Great Satan” (you and me) and our “Zionist” allies.
For the Obama Administration, it seems to be a “deal” for the sake of a deal only. For Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry, for “historical legacy” purposes, the fact that they made a deal is more important than what the deal actually does. Simply put, the Iran deal is politics over policy.
Yet many of our elected leaders, including Senator Merkley and Congressman Blumenauer, still argue that any kind of “agreement” with Iran is a good thing. We haven’t had diplomatic relations with Iran since the hostage crisis in 1979, so the very fact that we can now produce an accord must be positive, right?
For many, the Iran deal would be a good thing. Good for European Union bankers and arms merchants. Good for Russian natural gas oligarchs and Chinese fighter plane manufacturers. In fact, the Middle Eastern arms race that the deal ignites would be a good thing for any company or country that has financial interests in weapon sales.
The deal helps arm Iran. With that, it would also encourage arms buildups in Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia as these countries struggle to maintain a regional balance-of-power. Then there’s Israel. Does anyone think that Israel will sit passively while the rest of the region arms to the teeth?
How would all this play out? Of course no one knows for sure. But while we wait and watch, there’s a word they should consider adding to next year’s national spelling bee: conflagration.
Congress will spend August in recess, then address Iran when it returns in September. Oregon’s congressional delegation will have ample opportunity to study the deal (it’s only 150 pages) and hear from constituents. The pressure on our delegation to support the deal will be strong. Sentiment-over-substance groups like MoveOn.org will continue to orchestrate campaigns against any wavering congressional Democrat – especially influential members like Ron Wyden.
Even though Wyden has been a reliable voice for just about every left-of-center cause that’s come his way during 34 years of congressional service, he must still contend with his party’s absolutist wing on the Iran issue. If Wyden does hold firm, if he’s willing to put sound judgement ahead of the fevered moralism of left-wing sentiment, he’ll be considered “chump” by many.
Yet that’s what leaders have to do. Leaders are required to make hard choices, even when those choices are not popular. Leaders have to deal with the world as it is, not as we might wish it to be. Ron Wyden’s view on Iran may not conform to Portland’s prevailing political sentiment. To those whose world-view comes from the window of a local organic coffee shop, Wyden may soon be the “chump.”
For the rest of us though, Wyden’s clear-headed view on Iran, and his willingness to stand firm despite public pressure, should be seen as a badge of courage.
Related Slideshow: The Eight Political Types
What political type are you? The Pew Research Center says most Americans fall into eight groups. Can you find your match?
Republicans who regularly attend religious services (55 percent attend at least weekly) and are very politically engaged. Steadfast Conservatives are mostly male (59 percent), non-Hispanic white (87 percent), and hold very negative thoughts towards immigrants/immigration.
Photo Credit: Denise Cross Photography,Day 36/366.....I Voted, Feb 5 036/366, Live look
If you are an individualist who invests in the stock market and believes the government is doing a bad job, then you might be a Business Conservative. Unlike Steadfast Conservatives, Business Conservatives believe that immigrants strengthen the country. Most Business Conservatives live in suburbs with 45 percent earning $75,000 a year or more.
Photo Credit: "Photos NewYork1 032". Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - Live look (image cropped)
Educated liberals who are optimistic about the nation’s future and who continually support President Obama (with 84 percent approving his job performance) and, you guessed it, faithfully vote Democrat. Unlike Business Conservatives who prefer the suburbs, 45 percent of Solid Liberals prefer to live in a city.
Photo Credit: "President Barack Obama, 2012 portrait crop" by Official White House Photo by Pete Souza
Are you a person that dislikes both Republicans and Democrats? Young Outsiders may lean towards the Republican Party, but heavily support the environment and liberal social policies, unlike their conservative counterparts. Also they are one of the youngest typology groups, with 30 percent under the age of 30. Young Outsiders are 73 percent non-Hispanic whites who think "poor people today have it easy because they can get government benefits without doing anything in return."
Photo Credit: Tucker Carlson, Tucker Carlson's Twitter Profile
Like Young Outsiders, Hard-Pressed Skeptics doubt Democrats and Republicans, but lean towards the Democratic Party view, although fewer than half approve of Obama’s job performance. Difficult financial circumstances have left Hard-Pressed Skeptics to believe that “the poor have hard lives because government benefits don’t go far enough to help them live decently.”
Photo Credit: By Dorothea Lange, Farm Security Administration / Office of War Information / Office of Emergency Management / Resettlement Administration [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons (image cropped)
Next Generation Left
You might just be a Next Generation Left if you're liberal on social issues: abortion, same-sex marriage and affirmative action. However, Next Generation Leftists deny the belief that racial discrimination is a barrier to success for racial minorities.
Photo Credit: Jfruh at the English language Wikipedia [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 Live look (image cropped)
Faith and Family Left
This group is highly diverse with 30 percent African-American and 18 percent foreign born. Faith and Family Left want a greater government role in programs such as aid for the poor. However, they are conservative when it comes to social issues, like opposing same sex marriage and legalizing marijuana, probably because the majority put religion and family first.
Photo Credit: Vinoth Chandar "play of light in santhome church" Live look (image cropped)
If you keep saying “I don’t get it, I don’t see myself as any of the types,” you might just be a Bystander, which means you're the person on the sidelines. You're more interested in celebrities like Jay-Z and Beyonce (are they really getting a divorce?) than government and politics. Noteworthy that Bystanders don't registered to vote, but do love the outdoors. Some 66 percent of bystanders consider themselves an “outdoor person.”
Photo Credit: By idrewuk (originally posted to Flickr as Hello hubbie!) [CC-BY-2.0 Live look, via Wikimedia Commons
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